Today started out really sucky. I woke up exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Because we had plans for later in the day, I had planned to wake up and get ready as if I had somewhere to be right away so that I was ready when we did have somewhere to be. I take a long time to get ready and everyone is forever complaining about being late over it, so I figured if I’m ready before I need to be, I won’t make everyone late. Proactivity, a rare find for me outside of work hours.
However, when I woke up, I felt kind like I got hit in the gut with a semi-truck. I took a shower, as that was part of the “get ready” plan anyway, hoping it would help wake me up. It did…for about five seconds before I was ready for bed again. I put on my makeup and by the time I was done (which, for the record, does take 30-45 minutes depending) my level of exhaustion was hovering around “just ran a marathon.” I went to lay in bed in lieu of fixing my hair right away.
After fifteen minutes of lamenting my state of exhaustion, I tried to study, which was totally pointless. I decided to try the Adderal, because better to test this out today than tomorrow, as the doctor said. While waiting for it to work, I managed (barely) to do my hair.
When it kicked in (I took a smaller than normal dose to be safe), I felt…what’s that word…normal. Awake, able to concentrate, but not hypomanic either. I studied my books, wrote up the papers I wanted to have to look at tomorrow right before the test, and generally felt accomplished. I didn’t take any more tests, because I kinda felt like it might mess with my confidence. Also, I’m tested out. I’m studied out, too. So I studied for as long as I could before my brain kinda imploded, and then I went on to do other little nit picky things around the house. At some point, I slid into mild hypomania, but very mild so I’m think I’m clear on Adderall if needed tomorrow in low dose form if I wake up hit by a semi again.
About an hour ago, I started freaking out about the test. I should have studied more (I’ve studied like crazy). I should be studying now (I think my brain would bleed and if I don’t know it now, an hour won’t make it better). Just general pre-test worries that are working me up pretty bad, so have taken a Xanex and hoping it kicks in soon because my chest is starting to tighten in a panic attack-y type of way. I hope I do okay. I really better, because before nervous breakdown, I would have said 100% that I was going to pass. So if I don’t, it’s bipolar’s fault and I’m gonna be really pissed at it. Not that it cares.
In other news, after my husband got off work, we went by my mom and step dad to see our son and go out to dinner since my husband hasn’t gotten to see him almost (if not all) week. We had a really nice time, and I’m beyond thrilled to say that I will be picking my baby up from school tomorrow after my test and work and bringing him HOME!
A fun little thing happened though at dinner. I got to test my New Mommy Skills I had been working on pre-meltdown out in public. I think I mentioned, part of my meltdown was triggered by me feeling like a failure as a parent because my son and I would have two and three hour tantrums together over discipline issues. Now, for the most part, he’s an amazing kid. He’s not defiant or anything. But he is, well, two. So he tests.
I’ve noticed (now, I had no clue a month ago) that everyone other than me let’s him do just about anything he wants under the phrase I’m starting to hate “He’s A Kid.” He throws something inside that should not be thrown, maybe gets told not to (depending on who’s there), and if someone should dare try to take it away, he freaks out. He doesn’t need to. A simple “No! Mine!” will send both grandparents and daddy to their knees to bring the toy back. So yes, he’s a kid, and he will throw things in the house because he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to. But if at two you let him, then one day he’ll be eight throwing that stuff in the house, and then you have a big problem. He doesn’t know better. We all do. It’s my job, as Mommy, to teach him. But if I teach and everyone else undoes, well no wonder I was getting frustrated. Granted, I wasn’t doing things right at all, but I feel like I was laying more limits than others. My mom comes in second, she does give some limits. Dad and grand-dad might as well give him they keys to everything they own.
So I felt like a failure because he would say “No! Mine!” and I would kinda lecture and rant about how he needed to learn why he couldn’t do things and so on and so forth and we would feed each other on and on into an eternal tantrum of misery. No wonder I had a nervous breakdown. So I started researching parenting books. I know “Parent Effectiveness Training” is the new “way” to parent, but I swear all that stuff feels like a life of therapy sessions and I just can’t do it. My mom kinda did this with me before my bipolar made any method useless, and it didn’t work well for me, but I think that might have more to do with the bipolar than the method itself, so I’m trying not to be to biased about it. But I just can’t get in on that method.
I found two books that I was using before my son had to go to my mom’s house, and again tonight, and they are looking like they might be parenting life savers. One is “1-2-3 Magic,” a lot of which I don’t like, but taught me THE key thing I was missing and the other is “Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child” or something to that effect. The 1-2-3 book kinda says “kids are dumb, when they do stuff wrong say 1, then 2, then 3 – time out.” This part, I’m not so keen on. I’m simplifying it way down, so it doesn’t really say kids are dumb. It does literally say “like training a wild animal” though. So I’m not stretching that much. But I learned some things. They’re not giving my son enough intellectual credit, but I was giving him too much. A 5000 word speech about throwing a toy is just more frustrating to a two year old that can’t understand it. They call this “Little Adult Syndrome.” I’m not on board with it as much as they are, but I get the concept now that he can’t quite follow adult logic. Why I didn’t know a two year old couldn’t follow adult logic before? I’m blaming the crazy because I don’t have any good reason.
The most important thing I learned from that book? It said “No Talking. No Emotion.” As in, when you say or do whatever you’re gonna do, it’s gotta be in a normal tone and say what you need to say, only that, and shut up after that. You think I’d know that being in sales. I do that all day. It amazes me how I can be so good at things at work and suck at the exact same things at home.
The other books “Setting Limits” takes that idea, but in a less “kids are dumb” way. So instead of a “1” with no explanation for what the offense was, it’s “if you continue to throw the toy, I’m going to put it away” in the same normal tone and then shut up. If he throws the toy, it goes away, and I have to continue to shut up. I kinda wanted to hug this book after I read it (in, like, three hours because I was so overwhelmed).
Reading that is easy. Doing it, for me anyway, is incredibly hard. Sewing my mouth shut would probably be easier than mentally trying to keep my mouth from spewing lecture. It’s my knee jerk response to pretty much everyone outside of work. Maybe if I pretended I was at work it would be easier.
For the week I did practice this method before meltdown 2011, it worked. Not only did it work, but it worked like “magic” as the first book said. If I took the toy and didn’t say anything, the tantrum changed from two hours two five seconds. Five seconds tops. Sometimes I got a pout and that was it. If I didn’t fuel it, he let it go. I was kinda beside myself on this. Still working on getting everyone else on board because I think they are in the “no rules until age 12” camp or something, but I don’t want that hell-on-wheels 12 year old anywhere near me that’s the product of that upbringing…so, no.
Tonight, I got to practice my Supermom Methods in public. Public parenting is no fun. Bringing toddlers in public is no fun, even if they behave the whole time. Sometimes people want to touch them, and I have germ issues, and this always freaks me out. It’s hard to juggle purse, diaper bag, shopping bags, whatever else, ect., with a toddler. It’s just all a big ball of suck. But you can’t stay home until they turn ten, so you deal. But when they test, everyone looks. This is the car crash euphemism at it’s best. They want to watch your kid have a tantrum, watch you have the inability to cope, and then as an added bonus they can comment on how awful a parent you are. I know, because I do it. I work around people, and thus sometimes their kids. And if a client is in my office and said client doesn’t know where his or her child is, but I can see said child terrorizing other customers, you’re getting a stink eye from me in my head. If you say you don’t do this, you are lying. It’s human nature. It’s why Teen Mom exists as a show. And why I watch every Tuesday.
My son is great in public. I think he does this so when he melts down at home and I go “why doesn’t he listen” he knows everyone will say “he’s such an angel!!” and I’ll feel like more of a failure. Not really, but it does seem that way sometimes. But like all toddlers, he has a clock that says how long he’s willing to play nice. Our dinner was about fifteen minutes past his clock. As I was trying to finish my meal, he started taking his water cup and trying to poke the little “other” buttons all the way through, which would push water out the middle, which he could then play with. Very cute for two seconds. So I said “you can drink from the cup, but not play. If you play with it, I’m putting it away.” He looked at me, looked at the cup, and poked the “other” popper, and looked at me. I took the cup calmly, and placed it where he couldn’t see it, set my time for a shorter version of our usual “put away” time since we were out and it was a drink and gave him other things to play with. This worked so-so. He whined for the water the whole first minute of my shortened three minute put away.
At three minutes, he got his cup back. I explained “for drinking” which I thought was the shortest way to make the point. He took a few sips, saw I was looking at my food, pushed up as much water as he could, and splashed me with it. I messed up and giggled, because the kid was trying so hard to get to me and it was a little funny. I caught myself quick but I’m sure he noticed the start of a Cheshire Cat grin on my face. I took the cup, because we’d done the warning already. He lost it.
The full tantrum at a restaurant is like a bad nightmare for a parent. The parent version of showing up naked to school. Everyone is looking and judging. Except it’s real, and yeah, they are looking and judging. And it’s really easy to hand the cup back to get your child to stop the tantrum, but then they know (at least in public if not at home) that the tantrum still has some staying power. I’m not all for that. So I said “let’s go cool down” and I could feel a look of “wtf is she doing” on my mom’s face…my husband’s face…I didn’t even glance around because I might have lost resolve. I think I heard my mom say “is she really gonna take him outside?” I didn’t, we went in the bathroom because, well, it’s cold out. Had it been warmer weather, I’d probably have picked the car so as not to disrupt any potential bathroom goers. Really, I do try not to inconvenience people with my son. He’s not your kid, you don’t want to hear him scream. Neither do I, but he’s mine, so I get to. But you shouldn’t, and I try to respect that. I sat on the sink counter top (ew), sat him on my lap, and set the “cool down” timer. He was calm by the time I hit start just by being removed from the situation. So we just kinda hung out in the bathroom for two minutes to make sure he was calm, went back to the table, and all was well.
I feel like I have conquered the world. Seriously. Pass or fail that test tomorrow, that was a major life win. Especially for overly emotional and sometimes still-not-great-with-crowds-of-people-starting-at-her me. Especially one day into “normal” feeling.
When I got back to the table, I mostly got funny looks. I think they all think I should have let him play in the water, cause, you know, he’s only two. But what’s the cut off for that stuff? I’ve always felt like, as cold as it sounds, the sooner you learn life sucks a lot, the better you become at dealing with all the crap it throws at you. As in, it’s an easier lesson to learn at two than three, at three than four, and so on. The more years you have of people pandering to you, the more it sucks when you finally do have to learn that real life does not do so. In fact, it chews you up and spits you out a lot. But the more years you have behind you of knowing that, of knowing how to accept “no” as an inevitable response to some actions you might like to take or some things you might like to do, the better adjusted person you become. Likewise, the more years assuming “yes” is the only response to every whim you may have, the harder the fall is when you learn “no” is the more oft used of the two.
My family says I’m harsh. I say I’m realistic. I say this as a child that grew up spoiled as could be and still has a lot of trouble with “no.” With a husband that was spoiled until age 17 who has trouble with “no.” While I watch people’s spoiled children run in and out of public places destroying things that are not theirs while the parents act as if they do not have children, and then reward the behavior by buying the kids carts full of toys. I just don’t want a son like that. I want a son who is thankful for what he has, enough so that he can give to those that don’t have some of the luxuries we do. I want a son who can accept life for what it is, not what we wish it could be, but who knows how to make the most of that reality. To see what cards he has on his table and play those card to the best of his abilities, not complain that he didn’t get more aces. I want him to learn the lessons that a hard life has taught me and some of the lessons that I wish a hard life could teach me, but my crazy will not allow me to learn. I want him to be the best he can be. But I think the time for moulding that started the day he was conceived, not at age six or whatever time frame everyone voted on behind my back.
I hope I can teach him these things. I hope I can work on myself to become a better mom, because he can’t be a better him unless I first become a better me. Like my family says, he’s just a kid. He doesn’t know unless I teach him. So I need to know. I’m the one that has to guide him as best I can until he’s old enough to make his own choices and hopefully I’ll have done my job well enough that he makes good ones. We all make some bad ones, and I’m sure he will. I won’t fault him for them. We can’t learn only from other’s mistakes. But I do hope he can learn from some of mine. I hope even more that I can learn from mine so I can guide him properly. So the vision of a self-sufficient, mature, self-thinking man I have in my mind for my son can be a reality for him. I don’t care what he does for a living so long as he’s happy. I don’t care if he goes to college if it’s not really what he wants (so long as it’s not a lazy decision). I don’t care about what many of his actual choices will be (unless said choice is OD on meth or something). Just that he thinks them through. That he selfless in making them. That he decides based on what he thinks, not what’s someone else tells him to, not even me (though I’m always happy to offer an opinion on even the most mundane of topics). That the choices he makes in turn bring him happiness. True happiness, not the fleeting kind from material possessions and such. I think that’s my biggest hope for him, and me: true happiness.
Wow, that post got sappy. Sorry about that. I just wanna raise a good man. That’s what all that stuff said in case you don’t wanna warble through my sap. Plus, yay for a normal-ish day and a parenting major WIN that went unnoticed.